There is approved – then there is approved

During the July 9 meeting, St Augustine city commissioners heard the results of “requests for proposals” for the renovation and operation of the city-owned miniature golf facility located adjacent to the Municipal Marina at 111 Avenida Menendez — this week we may be back to square one.

During this Monday’s meeting, commissioners decided to use the University of Florida “invitation to negotiate” process to reconsider use of the facility and to consider uncoupling Ripley’s commercial tour stop and ticket booth from the recreational golf facility; over objections by Assistant City Manager Timothy A. Burchfield and General Services Director James C. Piggott.

Mayor Boles instigated a flood of protest when he first promoted the idea of demolishing the course and using the property for event rentals. The suggestion was highly unpopular in a Historic City News facebook poll and was the subject of hundreds of signatures petitioning the commission to allow the family-oriented attraction to continue.

Monday, Boles moved for reconsideration of the prior decision; quickly receiving support from Commissioner Errol Jones.

Burchfield and Piggott said this is “not the correct process” for the bayfront site.

Both men were part of a three-member staff panel including Historic Preservation Special Project Planner Jennifer M. Wolfe, who received and evaluated responses from rival sightseeing companies; Ripley’s St Augustine Attractions and St Augustine Historical Tours, Inc. on Friday, June 22. City Manager John Regan recommended the evaluation team’s findings, and the Commission concurred.

With a final combined score of 262 to 251, the team scored Ripley’s slightly ahead of the operator of Old Town Trolley Tours.

Federal law requires facility modification in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Ripley’s has estimated the costs for modifications in the neighborhood of $50,000. The City may not have to pay those costs. Ripley’s has indicated that they are willing to pay; but, with their lease expiring in two months, they want to know that they have time needed to recover their investment in the city-owned property.


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